Study of children with the inflammatory bowel disorder raises possibility of new use for tainted drug
The ongoing repurposing of the infamous drug thalidomide may include treatment of Crohn’s disease, an incurable bowel condition. Thalidomide was banned or never approved in many countries because it caused thousands of severe birth defects when pregnant women took it in the late 1950s and early 1960s. But researchers have now shown it can knock out symptoms in pediatric Crohn’s patients, sending the disease into remission in most cases.
Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease marked by diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and vomiting. One-fourth of cases show up in childhood. Crohn’s affects roughly 500,000 people in the United States and 1.2 million in Europe.
Starting in 2008, Marzia Lazzerini of the Institute for Maternal and Child Health in Trieste, Italy, and her colleagues randomly assigned 54 children with Crohn’s to get daily thalidomide or a placebo. Many of the children were also taking steroids to reduce inflammation. All had